Sunday, February 15, 2015

Charlie Hebdo and Free Speech

Letter to Toronto Star, January 28, 2015. Unpublished.

The initial reaction to the January 7 events at Charlie Hebdo has faded. We may now quietly examine the situation.

This weekly of juvenile effusions itself indulges in censorship. In 2008, the magazine published cartoons challenged as anti-Semitic. Because of the outcry, cartoonist Maurice Sinet  was asked to issue an apology. He refused and was fired.  So much for Charlie Hebdo being "on the front lines of the free-speech fight," as the Toronto Star describes this purportedly satirical publication.

We currently have a visitor trying to raise funds for the cash-strapped magazine (Canadians urged to fight against fundamentalism, Jan 27). She frames her effort as a battle against Islam which "must submit to secularism." Is it Cartesian reasoning to equate a radical element with an entire religion?

Dialogue and accommodation promote understanding, not confrontation. That's something Charlie Hebdo and its fund-raiser apparently do not understand. It is to be hoped that our visitor return to France wiser but empty handed.

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